Staying vigilant in the fight against COVID will be key


The Fall 2021 semester is about to begin, and everyone in the George Mason University community needs to do their part to make sure that our campuses remain vibrant and that we all stay safe during the global pandemic.

Mandatory vaccinations, masks for indoors, ongoing surveillance testing and the daily Mason COVID Health Check are the primary ways in which the university hopes to keep the virus in check. Mason is welcoming roughly 5,400 residential students as well as non-residential students, faculty and staff to campus for the semester’s start.

Mason has fared far better than most universities in keeping COVID in check, but our steady vigilance must continue, said David Farris, Mason’s executive director of Safety and Emergency Management.

“I think Mason has done a good job, but we just need a few more folks to get vaccinated,” he said. “We’re in a good position to identify any potential problems and address them quickly.”

As of Thursday, Aug. 19, just under 93 percent of residential students have been vaccinated, with roughly two percent having received exemptions. Exemptions can be requested for medical or religious reasons. Mason’s medical personnel review each request and make decisions based on the individual’s medical information. But no exemptions will be given based solely on natural immunity or prior COVID infection, per the CDC guidance.

Additionally, better than 86 percent of Mason faculty and staff have been vaccinated as well.

All residential students and all unvaccinated students will be tested once per week this fall. Unvaccinated residential students are expected to be tested prior to arriving back on campus and will be tested twice per week throughout the semester, Farris said.

There have been 39 reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the Mason community since May 17, 18 of which remain active, Farris said.

“We’ve done pretty good,” Farris said, “but it’s important we continue following all the precautions we have in place.”